Pizza is a symphony of salt, fat and acid subjected to heat in such a way that simple ingredients become a complex and exciting serving of “I want more.” But the flavor bomb of pizza aside, why does making pizza matter? Other than as a staple food of the economy?
There are two important factors for the home pizzamaker in the 21st century. For the home pizzamaker, venturing into baking pizza is necessarily an exercise in patience, proportion, happiness and harmony.
Pizza patience comes from the simple inability to rush making it. It takes time for the biochemistry of pizza to happen. Need pizza in a hurry? One phone call and you’ll have it in 30 minutes or less. But you won’t love it. The love happens in your own oven. When you want the good stuff, the homemade stuff, the amaze your mouth and light up your friends stuff, it’s a process. It requires preparation and patience that no digital device or combustion-engine conveyance can hurry along or make better.
Pizza proportion is about understanding how to manipulate and combine the ingredients. How much to stretch the dough. How much cheese is too much and how to stop before getting there. How more toppings must be applied judiciously in order to have a composed pizza that still thrills and by rights delights.
And most important, pizza is people. It’s one of the true communal foods. A large pizza is sliced and served to friends and family at your table. Pizza is a rallying point, a conversation, a memory, a good laugh, it’s fun, happiness, joy and delight.
There just isn’t a lot of crying over pizza. There must be anthropologists out there who can opine upon the social nature of food that brings people together for common joy. The clam bake, the low-country boil, the pig roast—there are all kinds of regional specialties that uniquely bring people together around a table and make magic happen.
But pizza is unique, ubiquitous and cross-cultural. The basic delivery system of bread (the staff of life) topped with tomato (the love apple) and cheese (an opioid receptor stimulant) creates a rallying point for almost everyone. Even the gluten sensitive and the lactose intolerant wish they could indulge. Tomato haters who are legion among us set aside their distaste in favor of the seasoned paste that covers their pie.
Pizza brings people together around a common joy. It knows no politics or religion. It just brings the happy. That’s why making pizza matters.
Free the pizza!
Blaine Parker (AKA The Pizza Geek) is fanatical about the idea that true, professional-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After two decades of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks who want to pizza. Blaine is also the author of the new, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza!
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